At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cloud Atlas

Recently, I saw the trailer of Cloud Atlas, a film directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachoskis (you can't call them brothers anymore now that Lana is post-op -- and on that topic, she's seems much more comfortable with herself now than when s/he was Larry.  So be it.).  I have to admit when I watched the trailer I felt it was a little heavy handed with its themes, as Hollywood epic films generally are.  I hate narration that feeds me central themes, especially when read by Tom Hanks, but I figure it's because the directors/producers felt that this type of film, with its multiple story lines criss-crossing across continents, centuries and lives (via reincarnation), you can't just lay out the information subtly as the majority of the world just won't get it.  Especially if you're aiming your film for the majority of the world, as opposed to a select group.But I am pleased that David Mitchell's book of the same name will get more attention.

I've loved Mitchell's writing ever since I read his book "Ghostwritten" which also crosses continents and different places in time, with various stories interlocking.  The first story within "Ghostwritten" starts in Okinawa and Mitchell often writes about Japan, as he spent 8 years of his life in Hiroshima teaching English in the 1990s.  His latest book, "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" is about Nagasaki and Dejima (出島) <-- the kanji means "exit island".  

Dejima is a fascinating part of Japan's sakoku history (when Japan had isolated itself intentionally from the rest of the world during the Edo period).  This was the one island on which Japanese traders could interact with foreigners, and I can imagine it and the foreigners who lived there were highly exoticised by the Japanese of that time period.  While most of the world was being colonized by Europe, Japan had sequestered its potential colonizers onto a tiny man-made island in Nagasaki Bay.  Anyways, the book is wonderful and actually all of the books I've read by Mitchell are fascinating.  His way of thinking and his writing is complex and refreshing, plus I dig what he's trying to do literary wise.  You can read more about his take on his books here.  

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